Magi Mike's Blog

Another WordPress blog about politics and religion

Archive for the ‘Sociality’ Category

Whatever happened to the Prince of Peace?

leave a comment »


The UK Election and Defence

’Mark Ferguson of LabourList wrote that today several papers had splashed on a particularly unpleasant and personal attack on Ed Miliband, the contending Labour Leader, from Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon. Fallon’s claim that Miliband would get rid of Trident, Britain’s US controlled nuclear defence system, to do a deal with the SNP (the Scottish National Party) is nonsense. He has said on numerous occasions in the past two weeks (in his Paxman TV interview, in an interview with the People and in his leaked debate notes) that he favours continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.’

Surely this is another example of Miliband making the less principled choice—the same choice as that offered by the right wing Tories! The cost of these four u-boats, as Fallon significantly called them, and their accompanying nuclear armed rockets for the UK is enormous, and it is money the social services and the NHS could do with. I do not budge from my preference for Labour rather than five more years of Tory robbery, but Miliband needs to find some principles from somewhere, preferably from the British working class. Labour will not bring in the socialist millennium, but with Labour in power there is more probability of a determined push from working class activists and institutions moving us and Labour in the preferred direction. In the words of Robert Griffiths reporting to the CPB Congress:

The period up to, during and immediately after the general election is likely to prove decisive in helping us to assess whether the labour movement can and will reclaim the Labour Party or whether major sections of the movement will have to consider what steps should be taken to re-establish a mass party of labour, one capable of winning general elections, forming a government and enacting far-reaching reforms in the interests of the working class. In order to create the most favourable conditions for resolving this question, and to advance the immediate interests of working-class people, an upsurge is needed in mass activity and action. That is why it’s so important that we discuss the priorities and line of march of the trade union movement, the People’s Assembly, the women’s movement, including the National Assembly of Women, and the peace movement.

The electorate have been duped into believing democracy is a five yearly cross on a ballot paper, but it took centuries of mass struggle to get that far, and it does not mean the struggle has ended. As the General Secretary says, it is time to renew it, and that means working class families demonstrating on the streets what they expect of the party they have elected, and that they will not tolerate any more of the BS we have been given by parties of both complexions over the last 40 years.

Let us stand up for ourselves! We can begin now by demanding the waste of our taxes on pointless but hugely expensive “defence” systems should cease, or we shall be canvassing for a new socialist party not merely a new Labour Party leader.

Written by mikemagee

9 April, 2015 at 2:52 pm

What is the Incentive for People under Communism?

leave a comment »


We have to realise that capitalism has distorted our humanity. Social Darwinism is utterly mistaken so “survival of the fittest” is not how evolved societies work. Darwinism applies to solitary animals competing for resources, but society is one way in which animals can evolve so as to have better chances of surviving through co-operation, sharing, caring, empathy and altruism. Capitalism pretends that humans within society are equal to solitary animals outside it. On that basis they establish that the least human (the most greedy and selfish) will do better than the ones who stick to their social instincts to help others and care for them.

In the primitive communistic phase envisioned by Marx before there was any surplus to exploit, society still had different tasks to be done, and those that did not do their fair share were punished by the community, almost certainly by expulsion in serious or persistent cases. That will have meant death, and will have been the way the prosocial genes were increased in the genome relative to the anti-social ones, the latter over several million years being culled out (a process not completed). What though made someone agree to take on an onerous job like say the group leader? A leader was necessary because there is no time nor inclination to hold a conclave when we are attacked by a pride of lions, say. A leader shows the way, but why should anyone accept such a job?

There are no perks in terms of surplus value but what there is is prestige, the esteem of others in the group. Once we have had a few generations of socialism—which will need to guard against lapses back into capitalism meanwhile (“dictatorship of the proletariat”, would you believe), the instinctive kindly, sharing, helpful nature of people will return and the attitude will be one of wanting to do risky and unpleasant things for others, to have the regard that comes with it. Wanting to be admired is another natural instinct, complementary to sharing and caring. When we return to natural behaviors, helping each other because we like it and want to, the state can whither away.

Milton quotation: Gratitude

Hindus/Moslems Have Less Pre- and Extramarital Sex than Christians/Jews

leave a comment »


 

Christian/Jewish and Hindu/Moslem Attitudes Towards Sex: Which is Stricter?

A new study, co-authored by Amy Adamczyk, associate professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Brittany Hayes, a doctoral candidate, analyzed data on premarital and extramarital sexual behaviors in over 30 developing countries around the world. It was inspired by Amy Adamczyk’s earlier work where she observed the differences in HIV/AIDS infection rates between predominantly Christian and Moslem nations in which Moslems had lower infection rates than Christians. Differences in sexual behaviors may help explain why Moslems tend to have lower prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS than residents of other countries. Adamczyk said:

One of the most surprising findings was that religious affiliations have a real influence on people’s sexual behaviors. Specifically, Moslem and Hindus are significantly less likely to report having had premarital sex than Christians and Jews. One of the novelties of our study is the analysis of behaviors rather than attitudes. While a lot of research attention has been given to understanding differences between the major world religions in adherents’ attitudes, much less attention has been given to understanding differences based on behaviors.

Moslems’ lower likelihood of premarital and extramarital sex is related to their commitment to, and community support for, strict religious tenets that permit sex only within marriage. But Islamic cultures influenced the sexual behaviors of all residents, even people who were not Moslems. Religion tends to have a more powerful effect than restrictions on women’s movement in many Moslem countries.

Written by mikemagee

27 October, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Catholic Church to Lose Historic Property Tax Exemption in Italy

with one comment


The Santa Brigida convent in Piazza Farnese run as a bed and breakfast

In December 2011, after new austerity measures were adopted in the country, 130,000 Italians signed an online petition urging the government to strip the Church of its tax exemption. The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually, municipal government associations said. The figure is 6 billion euros a year according to UAAR, the Italian Humanist Association. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone, including hotels, restaurants and sports centers, could reach 25.5 million euros a year, La Repubblica daily newspaper reported.

Marco Catalano, a 35 year old shopkeeper in Rome, who goes to church twice a month, told the New York Times:

It was time that they paid, too, with all the exemptions they’ve had throughout the years. They own the most beautiful buildings in downtown Rome, on Italian soil, and rent them out at market prices. They don’t give them for free or at low prices for charity.

Written by mikemagee

14 October, 2012 at 12:02 am

The Religion of Sensible Men

leave a comment »


The historian, J A Froude, told this story in his essay, A Plea for Free Discussion (1863):

“What religion are you, Mr Rogers?”, asked a lady once.
“What religion, madam? I am of the religion of all sensible men.”
“And what is that?” she persisted.
“All sensible men, madam, keep that to themselves.”

Would that Christians were sensible men, like Mr Rogers.

Written by mikemagee

8 July, 2012 at 12:53 am

Declining Christianity

with 7 comments


The Demise of the Kirk

The Demise of Christianity in Scotland

By the end of the 1830s, Scotland had ceased to be an integrated Christian community in any meaningful sense… Gone were the days when all classes had assembled in tolerably harmonious unity within the walls of the parish kirk. The decay of Christian fellowship was manifest in the increasing alienation of the “lower orders” from every kind of religious faith and practice.

A C Cheyne, The Transforming of the Kirk, 1983

Christianity has been in terminal decline in Europe for 200 years. Though the USA likes to claim it is a 90 odd percent Christian nation, it is a claim that has been utterly demolished by recent research showing that a large majority of US Christians know practically nothing about their own religion. They know nothing about the story of Christ, and mainly don’t care anyway because they already know The Truth. They know even less about the awful history of Christianity, nor Christ’s admirable moral teaching, and again they couldn’t care less because… they know what matters to them, even if it is wrong! Finally they have risibly wrong notions about the US being some sort of theocracy.

What remains is around 20% of the US population who can be considered genuine Christians, much closer to the proportion in most western countries. It ought to give the rest pause to consider that US Christianity is a right wing political plot, but it does not, of course. Few of them have the guts to come clean and admit they haven’t a clue what Christianity’s about for fear of not being respected by the rest, three quarters of whom are in the same pretence.

Written by mikemagee

7 July, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Why Did the English Levellers Think the Bible was their Guide?

leave a comment »


Levellers Day: Still Celebrated

Prominent historian, Christopher Hill (The World Turned Upside Down, 1975), reports the words of a Leveller in Chelmsford, which show that English workers at the time of the English Revolution, around 1650, considered the Bible to have been a working man’s political, even revolutionary, handbook! The Levellers believed in the sovereignty of the people, were committed to religious toleration and wanted democratic control of the army through representatives called “Agitators”. He wrote:

The relation of master and servant has no ground in the New Testament. In Christ there is neither bond nor free. Ranks such as those of the peerage and gentry are ethnical and heathenish distinctions. There is no ground in nature or scripture why one man should have £1,000 per annum, another not a pound. The common people have been kept under blindness and ignorance and have remained servants and slaves to the nobility and gentry. But God hath now opened their eyes and discovered unto them their Christian liberty.

Sadly, now God has closed the eyes of millions of US Protestants, who think that the bible, far from favoring the poor, favors the megarich, while the poor deserve to be abandoned economically if not and physically mistreated—and so they vote Republican. The contrast between the actual practical morals of Christ, and this US version of Christianity, championing people abuse and oppression, has largely been brought about by right wing political schemers calling themselves pastors, for their own gain, and to confuse and disarm the poor. It has been done by telling believers:

  1. they need to interpret the bible in an absurdly complicated way for it to be read as inerrant, which they teach it necessarily is because it is God’s own work, and God cannot be wrong, and so it has to be read the way the pastors say!
  2. to direct their attention to Paul and away from Christ because the Jesus Christ of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, is perfectly easy to understand, and very pointedly favors the poor, whereas Paul is much more confused and confusing, so suits the obfuscating vicars and ministers all the more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ blessed the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful and the peacemakers, and offered no blessings at all for the rich in spirit, the arrogant, the cruel and the troublemakers. To be blessed meant to be made holy so that they would be guided by God into His kingdom. It could not be plainer that Jesus favored the poor to the exclusion of the rich. Indeed, Christ tells a rich man he has to give his wealth to the poor to be saved. So riches are no blessing, rather they are the way that those who are not blessed betray their greedy cruel natures to the world at large.

Written by mikemagee

30 June, 2012 at 1:43 am

The God Debates, a New Team Blog on WordPress

leave a comment »


A Goddess of Pure Goodness and Innocence

Hugo Gatsby, the leader of a new team blog, the God debates, on wordpress.com, says his aim is to provide high quality discussion on important questions, drawing on a panel of eleven others. So far, there is not much there but he and his team have been diligently posting on other relevant blogs including this one to create interest, and they have succeeded. In return I made a couple of comments on the discussion on their page called Recommendations, unfortunately but predictably, being taken over by the tedious ignorance of the creationists. Hugo will have to curtail this dreary, mindless fundamentalism if he is to achieve the “Genuinely Intelligent Discussion on Theological Questions” his subhead promises.

These are the two relevant points I made…

Good and Evil

We all are serving someone or something—a good question to reflect upon would be—who or what are you following and what defines your purpose? Every person acts in their own best interest… there are “Good” and non-destructive ways to act in your own self interest and the interest of others and there “Evil” and destructive ways to act in your own self interest and the interest of others… choose wisely my friends.

Comment at The God Debates

We are all serving two things ultimately. Our own interests, and other people’s interests. If all of us choose to serve only our own interests then society must collapse because society is a way for people to serve each other. We would revert to being solitary animals, mutually antagonistic, scared, timid, primitive.

By serving other people’s interests we are helping to preserve society, and by so doing we are helping ourselves, the point of society being mutual aid, and therefore being served by carers and sharers, receiving the empathy and security of our fellows, cooperation, help, companionship, and so on in the complex of practical assistance and emotions called love. What is “good” preserves this benevolent system, and what is “evil” harms it.

The choice is the entirety of morality, and requires no supernatural being, merely the response of society, approval or disapproval, praise, admiration and reward for doing good, and disgust, condemnation and punishment for being wicked.

Traditional religion provided these responses, but modern society uses democratic means of selecting its representatives, so that supermen are not needed. One therefore has no need to choose between belief in a god or not, because it is irrelevant provided that everyone accepts that religion is a private matter.

Arguably, religion always has been a set of myths to exemplify the practical choice we have and to encourage the choice of the Good. The Persian religion, from which much of Judaism and Christianity comes, came down to choosing to follow the good god, Ahuramazda, or the bad god, Ahriman, in the course of one’s life, expressed as choosing the Truth or the Lie. All the rest is a metaphorical or allegorical illustration of our choice.

Atheism

A-theist… “no god” or “without god”. Curious way to describe one’s self. Defined by opposition to something or someone you say doesn’t exist anyway. Why all the fuss over those who do believe? If there is no god, then why not let others believe what they want and leave them be? Why the “compulsion” to not only define yourself by what you don’t believe, but also convince others not to either? Sounds too much like “proselytizing” to convert people to the “non-religion” religion. Could it be that Atheism is actually a religion of no religion?

Comment at The God Debates

Surely you have noticed that atheism is a word used by theists, not one chosen by the atheists themselves. The proper distinction is between skeptic and believer. Skeptics require tried and tested evidence for them to believe, but believers make belief itself without the need of adequate evidence a virtue–faith! It is obvious that faith is no virtue but a scam when you realize that an equal faith could have you believing in fairies and goblins, alien abduction, Dionysus, Cthulhu, Dagon and so on. Indeed, the Hebrew god is quite likely to be their version of Dagon!

Lastly, the atheists have no love of trying to persuade believers of the errors of their ways, but do so because they are acutely aware of what the believers cannot seem to notice, the horrible consequences of religion in the world. Religions overwhelmingly want to be right and show it by making everyone accept their set of dogmata. It is hard to comprehend that people are so blind that they are completely unaware of their own faults, while blaming anyone else they can. The self righteousness induced by religion is among its worst features.

Morality Exam for Republicans

leave a comment »


The Brotherhood of ManMoral Examination

True or false?

 

Christians believe that, as humans, we are all of us sons and daughters of God, created by the Almighty as His children in His own image, and therefore we are, every one of us, brothers and sisters under God in the brotherhood of man.

What are the political and social personal consequences of your answer, and are there any consequences regarding your own personal attitude towards other people?

Parallels of Reform Judaism and Secular Christianity

leave a comment »


Rabbi Jacobs Inaugural Speech

Rabbi Rick Jacobs was installed as president of the Union for Reform Judaism at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, NY, June 9, 2012. The inaugural address he made ought to be the inspiration of most modern, particularly US, Christians, who betray constantly that they know nothing in the least about the teachings of the man whom they believe is God incarnate, Jesus Christ, and how he expected Christians to behave to be Christians.

Here following are some slightly modified extracts from the speech with “Reform Judaism” replaced by “Secular Christianity” and mutatis mutandis so that Christians can get some idea of what a practical moral life should be.

Too often “Secular Christianity” is regarded as Christianity lite. What nonsense! “Secular Christianity” is built on the shoulders of “Secular Christian” forbears who took Christian tradition in an entirely new direction, re-envisioning our sacred texts and practices in the light of scientific inquiry and the new frontiers of human thought. Today we embrace the best of tradition and modernity, science and spirituality. Ours is the Christianity of autonomy, inclusiveness, creativity, passion, relevance and depth. We are the Christianity for a new era, and it’s time we let the whole world know.

“Secular Christianity” is unafraid to change our tradition when it holds us back from growing and deepening our faith. For us, change is not only permitted but obligatory. And sometimes it isn’t even fast enough.

Ours is an inclusive Christianity. For too long the Christian community had no place for interfaith families and LGBTQ Christians. But we leant the sacred power of inclusion. The loving embrace of all who had been excluded adds to our numbers and to our strength.

No questions are off limits in our texts. The core mission of the practical morality of Christianity has always been defined largely in social justice terms—to solve, on the basis of justice and righteousness, the problems presented by the evils of the organization of society. That sacred mission still inspires commitment among “Secular Christians” of all ages.

“Secular Christianity”, when practiced with commitment, is no less demanding than other expressions of Christianity—and some would argue even more demanding because we do not practice by rote but by informed choice.

Rabbi Jacobs observed that through Abraham all Jews have been given their charge:

“Through you shall all of the families of the world be blessed.”

What Jews do together is meant to shape a world of holiness, dignity, and equality for God’s children everywhere.

That is the objective of “Secular Christianity” too. All people, all human beings, according to the Christian God, are not merely His children, but they are God! A Christian who wants to abuse another human being wants to harm God Himself, and God Himself repeated it once in a positive and once in a negative light (Matthew 25:40;45) in the very context of eternal punishment and salvation (Matthew 25:31-46). Any “Christian” concerned about their place in the future life they hope for ought to know this passage as the minimum Christian lesson.

The Rabbi ended with this little story of a prayer answered by God, which is both essence and substance of “Secular Christian” commitment:

“Dear God, there is so much pain and anguish in your world. Why don’t you send help?”
And God answered, “I did send help. I sent you.”

It is the duty of us all to help and not to harm others, and that is inescapable if anyone wants to claim to be Christian. Caring and sharing might not appeal to most Americans, especially the right wing ones who most frequently claim to be Christians, but that only proves what an intrinsically evil country the US is. It claims to be Christian because so many utterly unchristian Americans self designate themselves as being Christian. Yet almost everything that they think, say and do shows they are children of evil.

“Secular Christianity” is saying that the very least you can do to be a follower of Christ is to follow his basic practical precept. Be kind to other people, by imagining that God is within every one of them and suffers every blow and jibe you aim at them, as well as every kindness offered them. Help yourself by helping others. That is another way that Christ put it—the Golden Rule:

As you would that people should do to you, do likewise to them.

Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31

Ultimately, Jesus Christ was a Reform Jew, teaching his understanding of God’s commandment in Leviticus 19:18:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yehouah.

Perhaps Jesus was in a line of them from Rabbi Hillel who preached:

Love all creatures.

Avot 1:12

and:

Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to another.

B Shab 312

What is sure is that Jesus linked failure to act in this kindly way to other people with eternal damnation. So do not regard anyone who is deliberately cruel or unkind to others as being a Christian. They are kidding themselves, and probably because they aim to kid you. You have to be kind to be Christian. That is what loving others means!

Now print this off and keep it in your Tephillin or your wallet to read and remind yourself! Not least if you fear for your soul.

Written by mikemagee

13 June, 2012 at 2:23 pm